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George Li: Tiny Desk Concert

09.04.18
George Li
NPR Music

By Tom Huizenga

To honor Horowitz, Li begins his Tiny Desk recital with the master pianist's electrifying reboot of a theme from Bizet's opera Carmen. Li describes it as an "insane knuckle-buster." Just watch his hands blur during the fiendish interlocking octaves at the explosive climax. Then it's two pieces by the ultimate monster pianist, Franz Liszt. The Consolation No. 3, with its gently flowing, long-lined melody and diaphanous ornaments, reveals the poetic side of the composer, while the rip-roaring La campanella begins with a single tinkling bell that multiplies into a wild cacophony of trills and scales, ending in what Li calls "a big bang."

George Li is a pianist whose star is very busy rising. And judging from the panache and precision in which he dispatched this extremely difficult music, he's an artist worth keeping an ear on for a good long time.

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